Flooding at the World Trade Center Site

By Deane Madsen, Assoc. AIA Architect Magazine

Pre-storm preparations could only withstand so much, and floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy eventually poured through into the building site

Despite days of preparations leading up to the landfall of Hurricane Sandy late Monday, floodwaters eventually breached the site perimeter, leading to extensive flooding in the construction site on Monday night. In an Oct. 29 press release, the Port Authority of New York said that the site was employing close to 100 temporary pumps in addition to its 30 permanent pumps in order to dewater the site, with more than 100 workers continuing to monitor the situation around-the-clock.

Crain’s New York reports that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo described the flooded construction site at a press conference this morning. “What I saw last night in downtown Manhattan were some of the worst conditions I had ever seen. … The Hudson River was literally pouring into the Ground Zero site with such a force we were worried about the structure of the pit itself,” he said.

A spokesman for the Port Authority described the flooding as substantial, and, while optimistic about the structural integrity of the construction, he acknowledged concerns about potential equipment damage.

The concerns predate the storm’s arrival—and have been mounting for some time. Writing for Reuters, Felix Salmon notes that skyscraper construction in New York started in Lower Manhattan, but most of these buildings went up in Zone C. Growth moved north from there. Only recently did skyscrapers come to Lower Manhattan’s Zone A, where the World Trade Center site is located.

“Now, with a Frankenstorm approaching, the decision to build so close to the water is coming home to roost, and firms like Goldman Sachs are scrambling to try to protect themselves,” Salmon wrote, as the storm approached New York. “Hence the sandbags. Which aren’t really preparation; they’re more like a desperate last-ditch attempt to save a multi-billion-dollar headquarters building from very nasty flooding.”

The quotations above from Governor Cuomo originated in a press conference this morning [Oct. 30, 2012], and are quoted from Crain’s New York.

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